Dale’s flashlight exposed the cracked cement blanketed by the darkness of the room, allowing the older man to patrol around the old repository with ease. It was a cushy gig; one he’d scored over four months ago after going to an interview held in one of the featureless brown government buildings that populated downtown. He’d been one of many to show up for the job, but he was the only one without tattoos or obvious criminal affiliations, as well as the only one to wear a suit.
The men had asked him simple enough questions, mostly about his past security jobs. Dale had been honest, even bragging a little over how he helped catch some burglars at a warehouse he used to guard over off the pier. The two people interviewing him, both women with gray blouses and white skirts, nametags hanging from their collars. The only oddity had been their questions about his belief system.
When he brought up that it wasn’t a proper question to ask a man in an interview, they said that they were allowed to in this case.
“There are… religious items on the grounds, and we need to make certain they’re not to be disturbed,” The shorter lady had said.
“Seeing as we’re working for a special branch of an extensive corporation, we need to make certain you would have no problem guarding such artifacts.” The other woman had added, marking a few notes on her clipboard at the time that had, for some reason, annoyed Dale.
“Now listen here! I’m a God-fearing man just like everyone else, and I don’t take kindly to being pressured about that!” Dale had exclaimed. Both women had exchanged a short look before clearing their throats. The short one had offered Dale the job right there and then, insisting that he start the following night.
The repository was set back in the industrial complex, a large chain-link fence surrounding the property with only one entrance: a small building that had a lever that unlocked and rolled the gate open and closed. There was a control panel that had monitors of the six cameras on the property, all inside the building save for the one outside the gate to see who was coming or going.
Not many people came, save for a monthly visit from men dressed in dark clothing. On the second visit, Dale saw a priest collar peeking through the trench coat of one of the men. Whenever they came they would park and wait for him to approach them. He was required to pat each one down, for what Dale wasn’t quite sure as he’d found a gun on one of the men the first time.
“I’m a bodyguard old man,” the guy with the piece had said when asked about it, jerking a thumb to the three elderly men. “Here with them for their protection, you dig?”
“Sure…” Dale said, not wanting to argue with the young man. He was fit, and tall, while Dale was short and pudgy. All he had was a strange Taser gun hooked up to a battery on his belt and a .9 mm pistol that he was required to practice with twice a week, maintaining an eighty percent head shot throughout every month, less he want to be dismissed.
He currently held a ninety-two percent, something he was proud of.
The men showed up again the third month and, like before, entered the building with a sense of trepidation. When Dale attempted to see them on the monitors, he found that each one, save for the gate camera, would go offline during their visit. This would last roughly two hours, one time three, and the men always seemed exhausted after leaving the repository. Dale didn’t want to admit it to himself, but he heard the familiar scent of spent gunpowder off of the bulky bodyguard, and watched the oldest of the men require help to the back seat of the vehicle.
They’d made their visit this past Sunday, ahead of schedule, and been in the repository for almost the entire night before they emerged. This had been too much for Dale, who had vowed he would enter the building and “investigate” to see what they were doing in there.
He knew there was little risk as the cameras records were backed up onto an on-site server that nobody ever checked on. Dale would know… he was here from six in the evening to six in the morning every day of the week.
Stopping at the cement stairs leading up to a brown metal door, Dale smiled as he saw the chain looped around a bolted on link, all held together with a thick padlock. Pulling a paperclip from his pocket, Dale put his knowledge of lock picking, something he learned as a child when breaking into houses (and NOT getting caught) was nothing but a game. Now, as he fiddled with the lock, Dale wondered if he’d be able to pick the heavy metal lock.
The lock popped open, dropping from the chains with a heavy thud. Dale slid the well-oiled chains and left them in a pile next to the door, before slowly opening the entryway, shining his flashlight in.
He was surprised when he saw a large room filled with statues, some cracked and worn, others in fine condition. Every statue was of the virgin Mary, and most held a large vase on her hip. It took Dale a moment to realize that each of the statues had something… off… about them. One had hollowed out holes where marble eyes should be, as if someone had drilled them away. The stone around the eye holes looked stained with red, as if the statue was crying blood due to it's injury.
Another was holding a Rosary in it’s hand, the cross hanging upside down with a strange looking Jesus carved into it. Unlike other crucifixes, this Jesus was carved as if the man was struggling to try and free itself, panic clearly on his face.
Each statue had something unsettling about it, from faces that seemed warped slightly to others that were stuck in a perpetual roar of anger.
“What in the world…?” Dale said, flicking his flashlight between each statue. As he moved the beam, he noted something small moving between the rows, dancing at the edges of the light. “Is someone there? Get out to where I can see you!”
Slowly, a child emerged from behind a statue of Mary bearing wolf-like fangs. He must not have been over seven years of age, Caucasian with blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes. His hands were covered in fine leather gloves, and his clothing looked like the outfit of a sculptor. Tools hung from a bandolier, chisels and brushes, picks and stones for smoothing surfaces. The boy looked at Dale with wonder, eyes wide.
“You’re not with the men who come to curse me?” The boy asked.
Dale was surprised by this question and shook his head. “No, and I don’t know of any men who would come to curse you. The only people who come onto this property are a couple priests and their bodyguard.”
“Oh,” the boy said, eyes calculating. “So you’re not going to try and put me back in the room then?”
Dale didn’t know what to say to that, instead just shaking his head. The boy heaved a sigh of relief and walked out fully from behind the statue.
Dale’s eyes widened as he was able to see the rest of the boy. Pale skin that stretched out into a macabre series of spider like legs, each ending in a hard black talon. He had the abdomen of a spider, with fine blonde hairs rising from the bony flesh. The boy looked like a spider would if it had internal bones, save for his lack of genitals. He was saying something, wiping his gloves on his shirt before holding one out in greeting, but Dale didn’t know what to say.
The boy cleared his throat, bringing Dale’s attention back to the boy’s face. He grinned, showing off a row of glistening teeth set in brilliant green gums. “You done staring?”
“Uh… yeah,” Dale said, reaching up to adjust his cap as he shook the boys hand. “Um, what is this place?”
“My father’s gallery,” the boy said, turning swiftly with an elaborate dance of legs clicking on the hard floor. “My brothers and sisters all help, you know?”
“Help with what?” Dale asked, following the boy as he walked over to a previously unseen doorway.
“In making art,” the boy replied, revealing the door led to a web strew hallway, thick globs of webbing hanging from the ceiling and stretching to the wall. The boy lifted up and gripped a strand, tugging on it three times. He waited for a moment, long enough that Dale was about to ask what they were doing, when a series of shakes came along the long strand from deeper in the darkened corridor.
The boy turned, a smile on his face. “Father wants to meet you!”